Unforgettable, That’s What You Are

To our wonderful Grandad,

It’s hard to believe I’m writing this for you and that you’re not here to hear it. After all, I think in your Grandchildren’s eyes – you’ll always be invincible.

In truth, I didn’t know how to approach this. It was hard trying to narrow down the memories we shared or the ways in which you made us proud. There are so many moments, so many admirable qualities to note.

When I was a young girl, I was simply awed by you. Through my eyes, you were just mesmerising. I’d watch you as you read your paper, calculating bets at lightning speed, hoping one day I’d understand mental arithmetic as brilliantly as you. I’d watch your hands work meticulously as you tended to your tomato plants, the same hands you’d use to pull out our teeth without ever making us flinch. Your touch was magic, soft and nurturing – and always warm. I remember the way my small hand fit like a jigsaw into yours, feeling protected as we walked.

I remember traipsing behind you, following your every footstep as we accompanied you on your duty early in the morning. My Brother always in front, following by your side. I’d feel envious of your bond as though he were your apprentice – your only Grandson and one who treasured you so much. You’d tell us we were searching for buried treasure – the three-year-old me clung to your every word. As we walked, I’d study your face eager to see it change with every gem you discovered. Your garden and the school grounds were always such a special place for us. I remember lazy Summer days eating ice-cream in the grass watching you plant flowers, or winter days building snow-men as big as we could.

I also remember our family walks along country roads, visits to Gibside or along the river in Durham where the Salmon jump. We’d collect acorns, leaves, cuttings of plants and conquers. You’d talk to us about the flowers, making us feel and smell them. You’d pick berries and mushrooms, wild garlic, mint and lavender. You’d tell us about the plans you had for them – where you’d plant the cuttings in your garden and how they’d bloom; about the jams you intended my Gran to make (whether or not she did, I can’t remember – I suspect she told you where to stick them somewhere differently when we were out of earshot. She was always good at reigning you in and well, what can I say other than at times, you certainly needed it).

You were always a tall-tale-teller and we all loved nothing better than listening in depth to one of your anecdotes. They were funny and humorous, scary and thrilling. Often, they were romantic! But always, they were interesting. I must have heard most of your stories a million times before – enough to recite about the time you saw a ghost walking to the phone booth or the poltergeist you chased by yelling ‘get out of my house’. Even still, each time you told them I’d listen so intently as if it were the first time. You’ll never know how much I crave that right now, that I’d do anything to hear your tall tales again.

I’ve always been amazed by how you could hold a room…and you did! You always fell Centre of attention, making people laugh at your stories, riddles and poems. Charismatic until the last minute – I saw how you had the nurses at your care home eating out of the palm of your hand! You had the ability to make friends wherever you went – which at times was surprising because of how tactless and honest you could be.

You told it as things were, never dressed anything up to be anything different. You were stubborn and insistent that things went your way but deep down, you always knew Gran was the boss and you behaved yourself impeccably once she’d cast her stern look in your direction. Your personality was huge – as huge as your heart! Through all the muttering and groans (mostly aimed at daytime TV), you were full of joy and laughter. You loved to socialise and I can still see your face now singing to karaoke at one of my Nana’s notorious New Years Eve parties. The biggest smile and a handsome one at that! The same smile you graced us with in the days before your passing.

And you were – so handsome! My Gran was one lucky lady but actually you were the lucky one and you knew it. She idolised you as you did her. I still won’t forget the time she broke her arm and had to stay in hospital. You made her a packed lunch and wrote her a love note every night! I remember hearing that and knowing I’d base my every relationship thereafter on that. You could be a gentleman when necessary (in spite of your potty mouth) and so incredibly loving. Watching you sing to her on your Golden Anniversary was another moment that just left us floored by pride for you both.

There’s no easy way to summarise the millions of ways that we loved you and I know I speak for us all when I say that we were truly blessed having such a personable Grandfather to look up to.

You’ve taught us so many life lessons that we’ll always be grateful for. Thank you Grandad – love you always, your Grandchildren.

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